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Jane Eyre @ The Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury

Published by: Yvonne Delahaye on 27th Apr 2017 | View all blogs by Yvonne Delahaye

Jane Eyre

Written by Charlotte Bronte and published in 1847, this tale of the eponymous heroine Jane Eyre, has frequently been adapted for film, radio, television and theatre, and has inspired a number of rewritings and reinterpretations.

Four years ago, Director Sally Cookson got the green light from Tom Morris, Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, to devise a two-part version of this classic novel.  Sally says ‘the film’s portrayal of Jane has missed the point.  This is a clarion cry for equal opportunities for women, not a story about a passive female who will do anything for her hunky boss. I was struck by how modern Jane seemed – her spirit and strong will, her peculiar and brilliant mind striving for personal freedom to be who she is, lashing out against any constraint that prevents her from being herself.  She was exactly the sort of person I wanted to be.’

With the help of Mike Akers (dramaturg), Sally began the process of devising a new piece of theatre, focusing not only on the Jane/Rochester relationship, but Jane’s early years living with her spiteful aunt, being sent to a Christian school and her coming of age.  It took 8 weeks of collaboration with a group of actors to devise the two shows, enabling them to get to the heart of the story and characters in a theatrical way. 

Following the run of the two shows, the Artistic Director of the National Theatre Rufus Norris invited them to take their version of the show to the NT.  They agreed to distil it into a single show, retaining its epic quality, but honing and tightening to make a more intense experience, which runs to around three and half hours with interval.  

Nadia Clifford, gives a powerful performance of emotional depth and insight in the title role.  The ensemble cast work their socks off to play a variety of roles, including a rather lovable dog who made me smile whenever I saw him.

The wooden set with a series of levels and ladders worked very well to represent the various locations throughout the show.  It’s certainly an exciting and innovative piece of theatre that captures your imagination, even if some of the devices appeared rather stagey.  The only few things I found jarred were Mr Rochester’s swearing when he first met Jane (not sure if that was in the book?!) and the decision to include Noel Coward’s song ‘Mad About the Boy’ and Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, which both seemed out of place.

Jane Eyre runs at The Waterside until Saturday 29th, with further tour dates and booking details on:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/jane-eyre-2017/

Reviewed by:

Yvonne Delahaye

26/4/17

 

@yvonnedelahaye

Comments

1 Comment

  • Elaine Pinkus
    by Elaine Pinkus 11 months ago
    I saw this at the National and absolutely loved it. The set was brilliant and the audience were absolutely glued to the production. I had arrived with misgivings because of the length of the play but the time just flew by. Glad it is still running.
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